North Yorkshire GPs to use 'spare' Covid-19 vaccines on under 50s

Some North Yorkshire GPs have vaccinated all of their top-priority patients and are now being given permission to use spare doses on under-50-year-olds, a chief nurse has said.

Sue Peckitt, chief nursing officer at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the county’s vaccination programme was going “exceptionally well” with some surgeries reaching all eligible patients in the top nine priority groups two weeks earlier than expected.

She added while bookings for all other adults aged under 50 were not yet open, some would soon be called up for last minute appointments using doses which would otherwise go to waste.

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“Many of our primary care networks are asking if they can move into the lower age cohorts and we are telling them to try not to unless it would mean vaccine wastage,” Mrs Peckitt told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Outbreak Management Advisory Board today.

Some GPs in North Yorkshire have vaccinated all their top-priority patients
Some GPs in North Yorkshire have vaccinated all their top-priority patients

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“We do know some of them have exhausted all of their eligible cohorts so you might start to hear some challenge coming back that some individuals below the age of 50 are starting to get pulled forward.”

As of Friday, more than 404,000 people in North Yorkshire had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, with almost 40,000 people having received their second.

Nationally, the figure for first doses across the UK is 30m and 3.5m for second doses.

It is the government’s aim to offer a first vaccine to about 32 million people in nine priority groups by 15 April and every other adult by the end of July.

The programme is now inviting those aged 50 and above to book appointments after the first four groups – those aged 70 and over, care home residents, healthcare workers and people required to shield – were offered a jab by mid-February.

Mrs Peckitt said while take up of the vaccine in North Yorkshire has been high, there were still some residents who were reluctant to come forward.

“We are still trying to get the reminder of the eligible cohorts to come forward,” she said. "There have been repeated calls to individuals that haven’t and we are working with them to try understand why they would not want to access the vaccine.”